Flexible catheters are used in a wide variety of surgical interventions. In many cases a lack of dexterity and miniaturization along with excessive stiffness results in large regions of the anatomy being deemed inaccessible. Soft, magnetic snake-like robots have the potential to mitigate these issues. Currently, flexible magnetic catheters rely on interactive forces to “follow the leader” which, for regions of soft tissue can be very damaging. Here we demonstrate the insertion of a 2 mm diameter, soft magnetic catheter capable of navigating up to a 180-degree bend without the aid of forces of anatomical interaction. Reinforced with a lengthwise braided structure and magnetized to allow shape forming along tortuous paths we demonstrate our innovation in a planar silicone pancreas phantom.

P. Lloyd, O. Onaizah, G. Pittiglio, D. Vithanage, J. Chandler and P. Valdastri, Magnetic Soft Continuum Robots With Braided Reinforcement, IEEE Robotics And Automation Letters (2022) 1-8.